Opinion

Governor urged to save Leopold Center

Gov. Terry Branstad,

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture celebrated its 30 anniversary last month. Ironically, it may never see another anniversary in its present form.

When I left a secure tenured professorship at the University of Wisconsin in 1988 to become the first director of the center I did so knowing the challenges ahead but believing fully in the legislation and in the people of my native state that they wanted to see a change in Iowa agriculture. I also counted on your support and the support of the legislature as we put together a tiny center that built on the Leopold ethic to create farming systems in harmony with the environment.

The organizational challenges were met over time with help from the Advisory Board, Iowa State professionals and especially the cooperating farmers. When I retired from the center in 2000, I left a thriving stable organization that was meeting its challenges.

I knew the center was a creature of the legislature and that it would always be subject to critical scrutiny at the political level. It has withstood that scrutiny even in 1998 when, similar to now, we had a Republican-dominated legislature. But you stood behind us. Thank you.

Now you can continue that support and allow the center to become what it can be: a shining beacon for an Iowa that is “living on a piece of land without spoiling it”. It can also continue to be the nation’s and the world’s leader in sustainable agriculture principles and practices.

I urge you to use your veto pen wisely and save the Leopold Center.

Dennis Keeney

Ames

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